Mountain Gear Closes After 37 Years

Described as a “mainstay of Spokane’s outdoor scene” by local news, Mountain Gear in Spokane, Wash., is closing after 37 years in operation, said owner and founder Paul Fish (pictured). The store and website will close in early January or February, but clearance sales begin Friday, December 27.

Fish largely blamed online competition and specifically Amazon as the source of the store’s troubles.

“I’m looking at a really steady trend where online looks terrible for independent (stores) and retail looks weak and threatened,” he said in an interview with the Spokesman-Review. “Nobody is telling me what to do. I’m making the choices. In another year, that’s not likely.”

The closure mean 36 people will lose their jobs, and Fish said he will do everything he can to help them find new ones.

Since it opened in 1983, Mountain Gear has focused on high-quality technical gear for climbing, kayaking, backpacking and other outdoor pursuits. It launched a mail-order business in 1993 with a printed catalog that became hugely successful in the climbing, mountaineering and backpacking space, but the catalog business folded as consumer behavior shifted online. The store was an early adopter of online commerce, but as Amazon continued to dominate online retail, Mountain Gear’s direct sales website languished and Mountain Gear became a vendor on Amazon toward the end of 2003, slowly replacing “our online business with an Amazon business,” Fish said. Over the years, the Amazon arrangement became less viable, said Fish.

“They leave less for their vendors each year,” he said.

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Fish also started the Red Rock Rendezvous in 2004, an annual climbing skills and training camp in Las Vegas. Mountain Gear has hosted the Banff Film Festival in Spokane and other cities for more than 30 years.

A note to consumers on the retailer’s Facebook page read:

Dear Friends,
When we opened Mountain Gear in 1983, we had a driving mission: to help people get outdoors in pursuit of adventure. Now, after 37 years, it’s time to pack up. Mountain Gear will be closing our store in Spokane and our online business.

Our home-grown business owes an enormous thank you to our Spokane area friends, some of whom have been shopping with us since Day 1. Whether you’re a third-generation customer who’s brought in your own kids to shop, or a Mountain Gear newbie, we’re grateful for your support. Like our employees, our customers share a passion for the outdoors, for exploration and adventure. It’s been our privilege to help fuel your passion.
“Now, as we prepare for closure, it’s time to offer you some great deals on gear.

This coming Friday, December 27 at 9 am, “Thank you, Spokane!” Our Going out of Business Sale will start, with everything in the Retail Store marked 20% to 50% off! In the meantime, keep going outdoors. I hope to be seeing you out there.

Kindest Regards,

Paul Fish President, Mountain Gear


Photo courtesy Mountain Gear